Donald R. McClarey
Dinesh D’Souza, convicted felon in a donation bundling scandal when a friend of his was running for the Senate from New York , (as liberal Harvard Professor of Law Alan Dershowitz has noted: “charging him with a felony for this doesn’t sound like a proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion…. I can’t help but think that [D’Souza’s] politics have something to do with it…. It smacks of selective prosecution.” ), has a new film out in July which will focus on the history of the Democrat Party. From the trailer it should be worth watching.
I expect the Democrats to highlight Trump’s well known connections to the Mafia and various independent gangsters and swindlers. Reporter David Cay Johnston outlines what is known about such contacts:
These questions ate at me as I wrote about Atlantic City for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and then went more deeply into the issues in a book, Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business. In all, I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime. Some of Trump’s unsavory connections have been followed by investigators and substantiated in court; some haven’t. And some of those links have continued until recent years, though when confronted with evidence of such associations, Trump has often claimed a faulty memory. In an April 27 phone call to respond to my questions for this story, Trump told me he did not recall many of the events recounted in this article and they “were a long time ago.” He also said that I had “sometimes been fair, sometimes not” in writing about him, adding “if I don’t like what you write, I’ll sue you.”
I’m not the only one who has picked up signals over the years. Wayne Barrett, author of a 1992 investigative biography of Trump’s real-estate dealings, has tied Trump to mob and mob-connected men.
No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks. Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal in which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers.
This is part of the Donald Trump story that few know. As Barrett wrote in his book, Trump didn’t just do business with mobbed-up concrete companies: he also probably met personally with Salerno at the townhouse of notorious New York fixer Roy Cohn, in a meeting recounted by a Cohn staffer who told Barrett she was present. This came at a time when other developers in New York were pleading with the FBI to free them of mob control of the concrete business.
From the public record and published accounts like that one, it’s possible to assemble a clear picture of what we do know. The picture shows that Trump’s career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service. Continue reading
When Pope Francis was first elected, Rorate Caeli received an opinion on the election from an Argentinian reporter, Marcelo González:
Frank “Pancho” Hamer was the archetypal Texas Ranger: tough, incorruptible, laconic and resourceful. He despised criminals and had even less love for corrupt politicians. Born in 1884 he joined the Texas Rangers at age 22 after capturing a horse thief while working as a wrangler on a ranch. He would be in and out of the Rangers for the rest of his life, frequently resigning if a challenging law enforcement position was offered him. He developed a reputation of rapidly being able to impose law and order on the most lawless communities, often to the dismay of corrupt local politicians. He compared criminals to coyotes and crooked politicians to crawfish.
Hamer developed an uncanny ability to get inside of the minds of his criminal adversaries and defeat them by out-thinking them. Having said that, he also survived about fifty gunfights during his career, although being wounded 17 times and left for dead four times. He killed 53-70 criminals during these battles.
He retired from the Rangers as a Senior Captain in 1932, but he received an unprecedented Special Ranger commission after he left the ranks.
After the criminals Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker had achieved blood stained national renown for a series of robberies in the Midwest, Texas and the Great Plains, the Texas Department of Corrections called Hamer out of retirement on February 12, 1934 to track down Bonnie and Clyde. Compiling a meticulous map of all sightings of the Barrow gang, Hamer trailed them, living out of his car. He noted that the travels of the Barrow gang often centered on quick visits to family members. Gang member Henry Methvin’s father Ivan lived near Arcardia, Louisiana and Hamer decided that he was about due for a visit from the gang. Harassed by local lawmen, Ivan Methvin told the local sheriff that his son was coming to visit and the sheriff passed this news on to Hamer.
The Barrow Gang had slain nine lawmen, and Hamer took no chances with them. He staged an ambush of Bonnie and Clyde at 9:15 AM on May 23, 1934, using Ivan Methvin as bait. After Clyde Barrow drove up along with Bonnie Parker and stopped to talk to Methvin, Hamer and the other five officers with him jumped from ambush and riddled the car with 130 rounds. Both of the gangsters received more than fifty shots, any one of which would likely have been fatal. Upon inspection the vehicle proved to be an arsenal on wheels: three BARs, Winchester 1887 10 gauge shotgun, Remington Model 11 20 gauge shotgun, and ten pistols, along with 1000 rounds of BAR ammunition and 2000 rounds of other ammunition. Bonnie was armed with the Remington, a pistol taped to her thigh and a pistol in her purse. Clyde was clutching a pistol with another stuck in his belt and a BAR and the Winchester in easy reach.
Hamer refused to write his memoirs, thinking that it was improper for him to reap a financial reward for merely doing his duty. He continued to work in law enforcement. Continue reading
You know that in space you can move in three ways – to left or right, backwards or forwards, up or down. Every direction is either one of these three or a compromise between them. They are called the three Dimensions. Now notice this. If you are using only one dimension, you could draw only a straight line. If you are using two, you could draw a figure: say, a square. And a square is made up of four straight lines. Now a step further. If you have three dimensions, you can then build what we call a solid body: say, a cube – a thing like a dice or a lump of sugar. And a cube is made up of six squares.
Do you see the point? A world of one dimension would be a straight line. In a two-dimensional world, you still get straight lines, but many lines make one figure. In a three-dimensional world, you still get figures but many figures make one solid body. In other words, as you advance to more real and more complicated levels, you do not leave behind you the things you found on the simpler levels: you still have them, but combined in new ways – in ways you could not imagine if you knew only the simpler levels.
Now the Christian account of God involves just the same principle. The human level is a simple and rather empty level. On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings – just as, in two dimensions (say on a flat sheet of paper) one square is one figure, and any two squares are two separate figures. On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine. In God’s dimension, so to speak, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a cube is six squares while remaining one cube. Of course we cannot fully conceive a Being like that: just as, if we were so made that we perceived only two dimensions in space we could never properly imagine a cube. But we can get a sort of faint notion of it. And when we do, we are then, for the first time in our lives, getting some positive idea, however faint, of something super-personal – something more than a person. It is something we could never have guessed, and yet, once we have been told, one almost feels one ought to have been able to guess it because it fits in so well with all the things we know already. Continue reading
When I was watching Red Dawn when it came out in 1984 I was thinking to myself whether this type of partisan resistance to an invasion of the United States would take place. I concluded that almost certainly it would. In the Revolution, after the Continental Army in South Carolina surrendered at Charleston, partisan bands under Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter and Andrew Pickens, and many lesser know figures, sprang up, and made life hell for the occupying British. When Washington sent troops to take back South Carolina, the partisans gave valuable intelligence and acted as force multipliers for the Continental troops and state militias. During the Civil War, similar partisan bands fought for the Confederacy and forced the Union to tie down huge amounts of troops guarding supply lines. After the Japanese invaded the Philippines, American and Filipino guerillas made certain that the Japanese had little control out in the countryside. The strategic situation set forth in the movie was fanciful, but the partisan war it depicted would have been a likely consequence of such an invasion.
Doubtless the occupying enemy would have tried an extensive propaganda effort: Continue reading
Cutting edge technology is always risky to use. And therefore it was not certain what would happen when on May 22, 1819 the SS Savannah began a three week journey across the Atlantic, becoming the first steam ship to cross the Atlantic. The Savannah was equipped with sails and only used its boilers for eighty hours during the crossing. During its twenty five days stay in Liverpool the ship and crew were celebrities and were visited by thousands including influential members of the British government and Roayl Navy. Upon its return to the US from its journey, the fate of the Savannah was not happy. Unable to make a profit, the ship was converted to sails only, and was broken up after running aground on Long Island on November 5, 1821. However, the fact remains that the Savannah blazed a path. Regular steam ship traffic across the Atlantic would not occur for another twenty years. Her legacy was remembered in 1959 when the first nuclear powered merchant vessel bore the name Savannah.
John Allen speculates that the Pope simply does not like Americans:
At one stage, Pentin asked Fellay about the pope’s repeated denunciations of “doctors of the law” and “fundamentalists,” wondering if Fellay takes those jibes as directed at his society or traditionalists generally. In response, Fellay said he’s asked around Rome what the pope means by that language.
“The answer I got most was ‘conservative Americans!’” Fellay, who’s Swiss, laughingly told Pentin. “So really, frankly, I don’t know.”
One might suspect Fellay was deflecting, except for this: He’s absolutely, one hundred percent right about what one typically hears in Rome on the subject of who leaves this pope cold.
By now, it’s clear that one defining feature both of Francis’ personality and his approach to governance – which shouldn’t be at all surprising, when you think about it – is a distinct ambivalence about the United States and about Americans. Continue reading
Paramount finally admitted that the lawsuit against the makers of Prelude to Axanar for copyright infringement was idiotic and is in the process of dropping it.
At last night’s Star Trek fan event, the latest trailer for Star Trek Beyond wasn’t the only newsworthy event: J.J. Abrams, announced that Paramount Pictures’ lawsuit against Axanar Productions was “going away.”
Speaking at the fan event, Abrams noted that Star Trek Beyond’s director, Justin Lin, was outraged at the legal situation that had arisen: “Justin was sort of outraged by this as a longtime fan. We started talking about it and realized this wasn’t an appropriate way to deal with the fans. The fans of Star Trek are part of this world.”
Lin had a direct role in helping to end the lawsuit: “[Justin] went to the studio and pushed them stop this lawsuit, and now, within the next few weeks, it will be announced that this is going away, and that fans would be able to continue working on their project.” Continue reading
Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear sets his sights upon the recent charitable musings of Father Tom Rosica. Go here and here to read about this credit to the priesthood. Here are the comments of our bruin friend:
Fr. Rosica: Jesus Brand Out, Francis Brand In
|The frightening and unusually meaty face of Fr. Rosica|
The Pope’s PR flack and head of Salt and Light Media Foundation has excoriated Catholic ephemerists. On May 17, Fr. Rosica had these charitable words for the Bear and other Catholic ephemerists who are having none of Pope Francis’ Kool-Aid. The Bear would just point out that the beginning of the first sentence unwittingly states the problem. This from the ever-reliable CRUX.
Although Pope Francis has succeeded in rebranding the public profile of the Church, according to a Vatican PR aide, his positive tone isn’t always reflected when Catholics themselves take to the use of social media.
On the contrary, to hear Father Thomas Rosica tell it, sometimes Catholic conversation on-line is more “culture of death” than “culture of life.”
“Many of my non-Christian and non-believing friends have remarked to me that we ‘Catholics’ have turned the Internet into a cesspool of hatred, venom and vitriol, all in the name of defending the faith!” he said.
“The character assassination on the Internet by those claiming to be Catholic and Christian has turned it into a graveyard of corpses strewn all around,” said Rosica, who assists the Vatican Press Office with English-speaking media, on May 11 as he delivered the keynote address at the Brooklyn Diocese’s observance of World Communications Day.
“Often times the obsessed, scrupulous, self-appointed, nostalgia-hankering virtual guardians of faith or of liturgical practices are very disturbed, broken and angry individuals, who never found a platform or pulpit in real life and so resort to the Internet and become trolling pontiffs and holy executioners!” Rosica said.
“In reality they are deeply troubled, sad and angry people,” he said. “We must pray for them, for their healing and conversion!”
Mixing humor and invective can be done. The Bear does it nearly every day. But, Fr. Rosica, the humor should be intentional. Sadly, for Fr. Rosica, the Bear is laughing at him, not with him. Not the best thing for a liar-for-hire. “Trolling pontiffs and holy executioners?” “Corpses strewn all around?” A bit purple, don’t you think?
Even funnier is absolutely ripping the heart out of Catholic ephemerists then faux-piously saying, “In reality they are deeply troubled, sad and angry people. We must pray for them, for their healing and conversion!” A good PR flack should stay on message and avoid blatant insincerity.
This “disturbed, broken and angry” (alright, disturbed and angry) Bear for one takes comfort in the fact that someone filled with such contempt for him nevertheless manages to pray for this unworthy Bear’s healing and conversion. However, the Bear thinks Fr. Rosica is mainly going after traddies here. The Bear merely wants Pope Francis to go away and never come back.
Now, the Bear realizes that he is taking a big risk criticizing this pompous asshat. [Note: edit out “asshat” before pub] Fr. Rosica doesn’t always just pray for erring ephemerists. Sometimes he sues them. Or possibly, he both prays for them and sues them; the Bear does not know.
Fr. Rosica sued one-man ephemeris Vox Cantoris. If Fr. Rosica wishes to sue the Bear, the Bear would be delighted to match his public relations instincts with Fr. Rosica’s, which appear to be nil. “Pope’s PR Priest Sues Disabled Veteran Blogger for Calling Him ‘Asshat.'” [Note: sub. “asshat” before pub.] “Rosica Strikes Again: Sues Adorable Bear Who Hurt His Feelings.”
Fr. Rosica gained infamy during the Synod on the Family. He also promoted Pope Francis to “Prince of Peace.” Now, that’s the kind of publicity you can only buy. Here’s what Fr. Rosica had to say about his client, Pope Francis. The occasion: Fr. Rosica received some award in Brooklyn, covered by his very own media outlet!
“After three years at the helm of the Church, we must ask ourselves: What is the most important achievement of Pope Francis? He has rebranded Catholicism and the papacy.” [Emphasis in original.]
He also said this:
Many of my colleagues in the “secular” media industry have said that Francis has made it fun to be a religion reporter and journalist again. He has changed the image of the church so much that prestigious graduate schools of business and management are now using him as a case study in rebranding.
Note that Fr. Rosica and the Bear agree with all this rebranding of the Catholic Church and the Papacy. It’s just that Fr. Rosica thinks this is a good thing. Why wouldn’t he? As long as the reporters are having fun. Heck, the Bear would have fun in the back of the plane, too. No doubt Fr. Rosica, as PR flack, enjoys having a hand in this rebranding. And it’s comforting to know that big corporations, maybe Target, who get themselves into trouble are using Pope Francis as a model to “rebrand” themselves. What kind of dope uses “rebrand” in a religious context, anyway?
The Bear has one question for Fr. Rosica. What was wrong with the Jesus brand?
Any way, nice to know we humble ephemerists, the francs-tireur of this war for the soul of the Church, are getting to people like Fr. Rosica, and, it may be assumed, image-conscious Pope Francis.
Who could possibly have thought, even in his wildest imaginings, that Hillary Clinton, of all people, married to that paragon of rectitude Bill Clinton, would have engaged in vote fraud?
Most infuriating is the Nevada primary, where Hillary Clinton won by only 700 votes. Among the issues reported there were shortages of ballots as well as ballots already pre-printed with Hillary Clinton’s logo. Also, several Clinton supporters were shown on video walking past poll workers while wearing Clinton T-shirts, which is illegal. One of the voters was heard to say that they weren’t registered, but would do so after they voted, which is also not allowed.
Which brings us to Kentucky, where the Attorney General’s office fielded 76 calls to the election fraud hotline. Fox 19 states that the calls came from 31 different counties and included issues with voting machines, illegal electioneering, buying and selling votes, and poll disruption as well as voter registration issues and procedural and legal questions.
Even more concerning are the discrepancies between the exit polls and the actual results of the elections. According to Money Morning, Edison Reporting is responsible for conducting the exit polls, and they are considered to be incredibly accurate as they are conducted at polling stations on the day of the election. This year, the results have been far beyond the expected margin of error in 17 primaries. Of those, nine had a margin of error of greater than 7 percent. In each case, the margin of error was in Clinton’s favor, and the cases with the highest margin were also the cases where the voting machines were over 10-years-old and therefore susceptible to hacking and other forms of tampering.
One should be able to expect his or her commander-in-chief to act within the bounds of the law and with respect to their constituents. Should Hillary win the presidency, if the primaries are any indication, this will not be the case.
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Pope Francis said today that he would set up a commission to study whether or not he can find more ways to confuse and frustrate the living crap out of people, revealing an openness to re-examining the church’s long-held insistence on not speaking off-the-cuff.
His move was hailed as a breakthrough by those in the media who have clamored for years to be given more stuff to speculate on, and who cite research showing that a pope whose speeches were scripted and thought out produced nothing for the media to report on, and therefore, pointless.
But the idea will face stiff resistance from some who believe that finding out whether he can indeed find more ways to confuse people is the first step toward drinking during a General Audience, which recent popes have ruled out.
During a discussion at the Vatican on Thursday, which at one point touched on the fact that just saying that a completely absurd idea is a possibility just because you’re put on the spot is in itself absurd, Francis was asked about the possibility of an official commission to study the issue. His response was, in essence, “Why not?”
“Constituting an official commission that might study the question of how I can make the lives of Catholics defending the Church from misinformed Catholics annoying?” Pope Francis said out loud. “I believe yes. It would do good for the Church to clarify this point.”
“I accept,” the pope said later. “It seems useful to me to have a commission that would clarify whether all of my successors should also be obliged to speak without regard to already resolved matters.” Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’. A historical curiosity of 1943. The only gospel song that I am aware of that praises Joseph Stalin, it was inspired by this remark in a speech by FDR:
The world has never seen greater devotion, determination, and self sacrifice, that have been displayed by the Russian people and their armies under the leadership of Marshall Joseph Stalin. The song was performed a cappella by the gospel group Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet. The song was a moderate success in 1943 and has mercifully been largely forgotten since that. A tribute to war time tunnel vision and the delusional view of Stalin firmly embraced by President Roosevelt and many other liberal Americans, inside and outside of his administration, at the time.
Father Z wonders how the Pope might cure the problems with Amoris Laetitia:
I am trying to think back through the Church’s long history for an instance in which a Pope has withdrawn one of his own teaching documents, on faith and morals.
Of course Popes have superseded previous documents by issuing their own.
But has a Pope ever withdrawn one? How would that work? In my mind’s eye I see a Pope giving a presser on an airplane (which in the future may become the Roman Pontiff’s official cathedra):
POPE WITH MICROPHONE: Okay, everyone, listen up! That document I issued a while back… you know the one… okay, that’s all over now. No more document, okay? It’s gone. I’m withdrawing it. It’s like… like an annulment, a rendering of something that was something into nothing, right? Got it? It’s not going to be on the website anymore. We are not going to twitter about… tweet?… tweet about it. We are asking everyone to just, like, throw it away. If you love Vatican II, just stop talking about it. Okay? Thanks in advance everyone.
PRESS SECRETARY: Okay, folks, that’s it for today. Continue reading
Oh, not in regard to having orange hair or in possessing several billion dollars, but rather in their mode of operation in matters of controversy. Dave Griffey at his blog Daffey Thoughts nailed this back in March, and now that Shea has given his blessing to votes for the pro-abort
Cruella de Ville Hillary Clinton in pursuit of his crusade against the Trumpster, I thought the readers of TAC would be interested in Griffey’s sharp observations on the subject:
Donald Trump, Mark Shea and the Facebook Generation
By that, I don’t mean Mark supports or likes Donald Trump. Quite the contrary. Mark routinely takes on Trump and Trump’s supporters the way Mark does most things: in the same manner as Donald Trump. In fact, that’s my point. If you want to be brutally honest, you’ll admit that Mark Shea is simply a Catholic Internet version of Donald Trump. If you visit Facebook or similar Social Media sites, you’ll see that Mark is far from the glaring exception. Go onto most Internet sites, including major media outlets, read the comments and you’ll see Donald Trump all over. And in some cases, such as Daily Kos or Salon.com or even such esteemed sites as the Huffington Post, you might find published editorials that aren’t much different.
I hate to say it, but my boys are correct. Donald Trump is the candidate that the Facebook generation deserves. And it isn’t because of a few radical exceptions to the rule. It is the rule. We are the generation that liberal society has been striving for over the decades. From the 50s through the 60s and 70s and beyond, Trump is what we’ve been aiming at.
Just look at Mark Shea as an obvious example. Mark is familiar to most Catholics on the Internet and is highly regarded by many. And yet, not only does he resemble Trump in his approach to topics and interaction on his various sites, he does so as a representative of the Catholic Church. At least Trump just represents politics. And yet Mark is quite the hero for many Catholics. For many non-Catholics, too. Including those who are quick to attack and bemoan the Trump phenomenon.
How can I be so heartless and judgmental to compare Mark to Trump? Or compare others on Social Media to Trump? Easy. I read. I listen to Trump and what people criticize him for, and then visit various Facebook pages, including Mark’s, and I see no difference. Trump, beyond the policies he advocates – when we can figure them out – is brash, crude, rude, vulgar, sinful, mean spirited, ill-informed and simply a lousy person because of how he interacts with others and treats others who dare disagree with him.
So how is that different than Mark, or even Mark’s own followers? Or the followers on any one of a million sites? For instance, Mark’s own lack of substance and knowledge of topics he comments on outside of Catholicism is legendary. Even those who support him and agree with him have hung their heads over his approach to such topics as the Death Penalty or Gun Control. The same is a common complaint about Trump. Mark thinks nothing of using the same language Trump is condemned for using. Mark attacks through name calling and condescension and scorn any who dare disagree, unless Mark happens to be friends with the violators. Mark isn’t even above making false and slanderous accusations against people, even to the point of libel.
But Trump says horrible things! He mocks people for things they can’t help. He made fun of Carly Fiorina’s looks. He talks about killing people. He talks about destroying other countries. So does Mark. One of his Facebook followers recently said that things would be better off if America was burned to ashes. Mark only disagreed because he said Americans, being the murderous barbarians that we are, would take millions of innocent lives with us. Mark justified his view of America by reminding us of the millions of Indians and Slaves who fell to our murderous, barbaric ancestors. Imagine if Trump or a Trump supporter produced the same dialogue about another country, like Mexico or China. Imagine the outrage and anger.
And Mark not only uses death and suffering to advance his opinions, he even has begun to mock people murdered by guns – if those same people were hard right wing activists. That might seem understandable to some. But remember, Mark and many others were shocked at how many celebrated the death of Osama bin Ladin or Hugo Chavez, saying that the only appropriate Christian response was to pray for their souls. Yet many of those same Catholics are rightly shocked when Trump appears so callous and cruel to other people in the world. Notice a trend? What about making fun of others like Trump does? Last election cycle Mark was forced by his own readers to remove a post he had submitted that made fun of Michelle Bachmann’s eyes and facial features. Sound familiar? Continue reading
I have never met Carl E. Olson, but if I did I would be happy to shake his hand. Under the current Pontificate too many Catholic commenters either ignore the frequently baffling things that Pope Francis says, or make excuses for him. Olson does not. He deals with the situation straight on. A prime example of this is his examination of the La Croix interview this week with the Pope:
4) Here is the most controversial section of the interview:
– The fear of accepting migrants is partly based on a fear of Islam. In your view, is the fear that this religion sparks in Europe justified?
Pope Francis: Today, I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.
I find it refreshing that Francis admits that “the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam” because he has previously insisted that true Islam has nothing to do with violence. But, in fact, many people in the West are fearful of Islam, in part because they recognize that while the majority of Muslims are not terrorists, the vast majority of terrorists claim to be truly Muslim and—this is essential—there is no basis on which their claim can be denied. Secondly, the “well, Christians do bad stuff too!” argument is not only facile, it is insulting. Of course Christians have done bad things. But saying that the Great Commission—”Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20)—to jihad and the consistent record of violent and coercive expansion by Islam is simply ludicrous. No, it is not the same idea of conquest, and that sort of evasive equivalence is a disservice to the historical record and to the truth about Christianity.
Unfortunately, Francis has often taken this sort of straw man approach to this topic, as when he said in November 2014, “And I sincerely believe that we cannot say all Muslims are terrorists, just as we cannot say that all Christians are fundamentalists – we also have fundamentalists among us, all religions have these small groups.” That is equally facile, because no serious person is making such expansive claims; rather, the issue is the inherent vision and logic of a particular religion, combined with the means by which it regulates itself and interprets its doctrines, combined with the structures by which it controls and directs its actions. That said, I think he is correct in noting the implications of trying to plant some sort of democratic structure in certain countries; it simply doesn’t work and it often has very bad consequences. But that still is separate from the inner dynamism and goals of Islam, which is not only fractures, but quite theologically schizophrenic and disfunctional..
5) Finally, Francis says, “States must be secular. Confessional states end badly. That goes against the grain of History.” My initial response is: “And non-confessional states end well?” Let’s be honest: the end of any nation is almost always bad; nations rise and fall for a variety of reasons, but the falls are rarely pleasant or enjoyable. The Soviet Union is a good case in point. On the other hand, this insistence that confessional states are simply bad is dubious, to put it mildly. The Byzantine Empire lasted for—wait for it—a thousand years, and it was, on the whole, an impressive and great culture. (Of course, no one knows anything about it, so it’s a moot point, right?) Oh, and it was conquered by, yes, Muslims. And as a recent and important book explains, the Andalusian Paradise was not, in fact, paradise. And, please, can be stop invoking “History” and the “grain of History”? It’s both lazy and meaningless; history is what men have done, using their free will, for good or ill. Invoking vaguely Hegelian concepts only confuses matters.
Francis is right, of course, to defend religious freedom; he says many good things. But, at the end of day, those who wish to understand the place, purpose, and possible future of Europe will be better served in seeking out the writings of Joseph Ratzinger. Continue reading
Magisterium as guessing game, that is the essence of the papacy of Pope Francis. Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa gives us examples:
Yes, No, I Don’t Know, You Figure It Out. The Fluid Magisterium of Pope Francis
“If we talk explicitly about communion for the divorced and remarried, you have no idea what a mess these guys will make for us. So let’s not talk about it directly, you get the premises in place and then I will draw the conclusions.”
And so, thanks to this “wise” advice – Forte continued – matters came to “fruition” and the papal exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” arrived. In which the reformers have found what they wanted.
Forte’s is not a confidence snatched by betrayal. He said it from the stage of the theater in the city of Vasto, of which he is archbishop, in front of a packed crowd. “Typical of a Jesuit,” he commented afterward with a smile.
Because that’s just what Francis does. He never says everything that he has in mind. He just leaves it to guesswork. And he lets the interpretations run, even the most disparate, over what he says and writes.
That this approach should be used in private conversations is understandable. But Jorge Mario Bergoglio exercises it in systematically in public, in his official acts of magisterium, even when everyone is expecting him to add it all up and give a clear and definitive response.
With respect to the magisterium of previous popes, carved in stone, polished word by word, unmistakeble, that of Francis is an epochal transformation.
“Amoris Laetitia” is glaring proof of this. In reading it, the German cardinal and theologian Walter Kasper, who for decades has been the most combative proponent of communion for the divorced and remarried, had no doubts: reformers like him, he declared exultantly, now have “the wind at our backs to resolve such situations in a humane way.”
But another cardinal theologian and fellow countryman, Gerhard Müller, has read the contrary in it. He has said that there is nothing in “Amoris Laetitia” that clearly overturns the magisterium of the perennial Church, which forbids that communion. And Müller is not just anyone, he is the prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, the supreme court in the supervision of doctrine.
But anyone who believes that at this point Francis should clearly say where he stands is sure to be disappointed. Because meanwhile the pope has promoted a third cardinal, the Austrian Christoph Schönborn, as his most trusted interpreter of the post-synodal exhortation. A role that Schönborn is playing to perfection, with explanations also in the style of Bergoglio, all to be interpreted anew, on the ambiguous border between doctrine presented as unchanged and pastoral applications that must be new and changing.
No to barred gates, no to revolutions. But the third way conceived by Francis is anything but unyielding. Just the opposite.
By bringing back into discussion what appeared definitive before him, he has opened a process that gives equal citizenship to the most irreconcilable opinions, and therefore also to the most fiery reformers.
The unparalleled example of this inventiveness of Bergoglio’s may have come last February, when he went to visit the Lutheran Church in Rome (see photo).
A Protestant married to a Catholic asked him if she too could receive communion, together with her husband. And he replied to her with such a roundabout yes, no, and I don’t know as to give no understanding, in the end, what conclusion to draw, if not this: “It is a problem to which everyone must respond.”
It was to no use that Cardinal Müller, in the subsequent days, exerted himself to reiterate that the doctrine of the Church on this point had not changed. Because what was certain was that the pope had made it a matter of opinion, he in the first place, with his statements, denials, and contradictions.
They have their work cut out for them, the bishops and cardinals of Africa, or of Eastern Europe, or of the school of Wojtyla and Ratzinger. Cardinal Kasper has understood very well how things stand: “There is freedom for all. In Germany that can be permitted which in Africa is prohibited.”
With Pope Bergoglio a new model of Church is advancing, fluid, multicultural. Continue reading